When it comes to abortion, most debates hinge on the fundamental disagreement about when life truly begins. Most anti-abortion proponents contend that life begins at the moment of conception and that at that point, the fertilized egg must be treated with all the rights of a human being. Most pro-choice sorts contend that a fertilized egg isn’t a human being any more than a pinecone is a pine tree. This disagreement isn’t the sort that can be definitively resolved because no amount of evidence is going to change either side. And so the abortion debate has gone on for years and years with no end in sight because of this irreconcilable difference.
And so in this article I will not attempt to persuade you one way or another when it comes to when life begins. In fact, for the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that somehow we know for a fact that human life begins at conception. With that point conceded, let’s take a serious look at the issue of abortion.
If abortions truly are killing human beings then it is in everyone’s best interest to make the abortion rate as low as possible. The reflexive response and the response by most Republicans and conservatives is to ban abortion entirely. This is understandable but it fails to pay attention to history.
The first abortions in America were not performed after Roe v. Wade. At the time that abortion was legalized thousands of abortions had already been performed. Most were performed under terrible conditions by unqualified ‘doctors’ that charged far too much money. Many mothers died under these circumstances. The important take away here is that making abortion illegal did not stop abortions. It simply made them much, much more dangerous. People who want to make abortions illegal may have their hearts in the right place, but if their intent is to lower the abortion rate, this isn’t the way to do it.
The absolute best way to lower the abortion rate is to make sure that unwanted pregnancies never occur in the first place. Again, the knee-jerk reaction to this is a sensible one: If people don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex. Naturally, that makes perfect sense. But much like some people will get abortions regardless of what you want them to do some people are going to have sex regardless of whether or not they should have sex.
The problem with many standard Conservative responses to abortion is that they tend to assume that all people will behave a certain way. They assume that if abortion were illegal all women with unwanted pregnancies would not seek out illegal abortions. They assume that if people cannot afford contraception and don’t want to be pregnant they won’t have sex. But the reality is very different.
If you’re looking for something that will lower the abortion rate but still account for those who have sex and do not want children, the best option is to provide contraception. When contraception is free and easily available, the abortion rate plummets. This isn’t just opinion. Studies have shown this to be true.
A common Conservative argument against providing free birth control is that sex is not a human necessity and that tax dollars should not be spent on something like birth control. But if this is your argument against providing free birth control, the question has to be asked: Which is more important to you, saving money or saving the lives of the unborn? Regardless of your answer, providing free birth control is still the correct answer.
Most women who have unwanted pregnancies do not have health insurance. This means that if they give birth, the state is going to have to pay for it. A quick look at the cost of child birth vs. the cost of birth control pills reveals that the cost of one child birth is enough to pay for birth control pills for twelve years. That cost isn’t including all the additional healthcare costs associated with having a new child. It’s astronomically more expensive to pay for a woman to have a child than to pay for a woman’s contraception. If you’re looking to save money and lower the abortion rate, providing free contraception is the simplest and best solution.
– Jack Cameron